Sunday, August 16, 2020

Kalesa Tour in Intramuros

A horse-drawn carriage or 'Kalesa' in Filipino. That's one of the remaining symbols and part of the cultural heritage of the Philippines.

The old Manila was once a glorious Spanish fortress and settlement located in the oldest district of Manila, in Intramuros. It is where you can find Kalesa for a nostalgic tour inside the walled city.

And that was 333 years of Spanish colonization that ended in 1898. But then, we couldn't speak fluent Spanish except for the Spanish-creole language in the province of Zamboanga in Southern Philippines and in South Luzon, in the province of Cavite. 

The Main Entrance

Anyway, we do speak Spanish but, it's broken Spanish. We have tens of thousands of Spanish words in our Filipino language. It's just that Americans took over the Philippine Islands that had to change our identity again that the Spanish had built for more than three centuries.

And so, to have a glimpse of our Spanish colonial past, I should have experienced a Kalesa ride; a tour as old as time in Intramuros, Manila.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran

Are we a Latino? an Asian, or a Pacific Islander?

That's hard to explain since we're surely a mixed-race in the far east. That could be all of the above or we might be confused with our racial identity.

So, riding a Kalesa inside the walled city of Intramuros was fun and truly educational. As Filipinos, we must learn how to look back on our past to have a better understanding of our national identity.

Passing along the streets of Intramuros are the restored walls and Spanish architectural buildings that can bring consciousness back to the good old days. Schools, churches, Spanish government buildings, and old Spanish houses, they are all restored and brought back to life.

Foreign tourists in Intramuros may now have an idea of our Spanish colonial past and why we say "pero, para, mas, casa" and why some Filipinos may look like Spanish mestizo and not really brown Malay skin as we are known for.

Palacio del Gobernador
Passing through the Old Wall on a narrow street

That ends my cultural trip to downtown Manila. A Kalesa tour is a must-try not just for foreigners, but we Filipinos must explore and revisit, but not revise our history and our identity.

© 2020 Del Cusay